Dortmund (dpa) – Anniversary boy Lucien Favre seemed close to despair. With loud instructions and erratic gestures, the otherwise rather quiet Swiss soccer teacher tried to avert the impending disaster from the sidelines.
Only the late happy ending in the laborious 2-0 (0-0) over Zenit St. Petersburg in his 100th competitive game for Borussia Dortmund drove the worry lines away. However, Favre did not allow criticism of his team after an unsightly show of strength over long stretches and referred to the opponent’s wall tactics: “They parked two buses in front of the gate.”
Again and again the Dortmunders got stuck in the densely staggered defense of the Russians at the first ghost home game of their long European Cup history. Only the goals of Jadon Sancho (foul penalty / 78th minute) and Erling Haaland (90th + 1) saved everyone involved just one week after the big false start in the group phase at Lazio (1: 3) another sensitive setback. That’s why Favre preferred a pragmatic view of things: “We won 2-0. That was our job. And we did our job.”
Like the coach, Michael Zorc could easily get over the missing magic: “This game will not go down in football history. But we are happy to take the three points with us.” The sporting director found it understandable that Borussia had a hard time for a long time: “You noticed that it wasn’t all that easy and simple. There was pressure on the kettle because we were forced to win through the defeat at Lazio.”
It suited the dreary appearance that only a penalty brought relief. An unnecessary foul on Thorgan Hazard, who had recently been substituted on, was legitimately punished with a penalty, which the England international Sancho converted coldly. The now more offensive pace of the Russians paved the way for Haaland’s 2-0 counter goal in stoppage time. “We often had the ball and knew our chance would come. We had to be patient,” commented the 20-year-old Norwegian, who scored for the twelfth time in his tenth Champions League game.
Borussia, known for their offensive power, was convincing – if at all – on the defensive. Like four days before in the 3-0 win over FC Schalke 04 in the Revierderby, the defense around Mats Hummels, who has been strong for weeks, again did not allow the opponent to shoot their own goal. The fact that the team did not concede a goal in four out of five Bundesliga games also points to increased stability. “That’s very, very good,” said Favre.
With a win in the next group game next Wednesday at Club Bruges, which ranks second in the table after the 1-1 draw against Lazio Rome, one point ahead of BVB, the Favre team would be back on target. But before that, the Bundesliga third wants to consolidate the upward trend at Arminia Bielefeld on Saturday. “I expect Bielefeld to be much more aggressive than Zenit was today. We have to counter it, it will be a test,” said Zorc, hoping for another sense of achievement a week before the league summit against Bayern.